Monday 28 May 2018

13/18 (20 inc. Alien and Saturn 3) French, Italian films, Great McGonagall, De la Iglesia, Rosebud, Scream and Scream Again, Emmerich, Beastmaster, Outland

BLUE MONEY (1985) - Ulster-accented Tim Curry is supposed to be from Artane. Dermot Crowley looks a lot like Sean Hughes. Curry's character's a bit annoying. The musical sequences have a look of music video."Ireland" is clearly bits of the UK. It's convincing enough, but there's few landmarks aside from a few probable second unit bits in O'Connell Street and Aungier Street, which capture the city in its pre-Tiger prime. It seems that they did shoot in Dublin, but only for a day or so.  Curry makes a convincing aul wan. He uses same accent and disguise in Titanic (TV - 1996).

The Great McGonagall (1974) - The sound mix is awful, it breaks the Fourth Wall frequently but in a way that is charming and not grating a la Mrs. Brown's Boys, and yet this biopic of the world's worst poet filmed entirely in Wilton's Music Hall with the likes of John Bluthal and Valentine Dyall in multiple roles. Peter Sellers seems restrained as a gliding Queen Victoria - "the Mark Phillips of her day", maybe as this is such a lower-budget production than he was used to, even at this paltry stage of his career. Milligan's Scottish accent is more Irish, John Bluthal almost steals the show, and the Q5 theme is used, and a Corn Flakes packet crown is worn in one scene. Astonishing - basically the ethos of Q... in cinema.

La Menace (1977) - Drab Yves Montand divorce thriller that is enlivened too late by a VW Beetle vs truck chase along British Columbia. And a theme that sounds like Last of the Summer Wine in minor-key. Like L'Homme En Colere, an attractive looking but dull Franco-Canadian tax dodge.

La Raison D'etat (1977) - Dull French-Italian political thriller with Monica Vitti in ill-fitting specs, some nice footage.

The Vampire and the Ballerina (1960 - B/W) - One of Walter Brandi's stylishly shot but identikit vampire horrors. The same old hoary Gothic replayed.

Tried watching Alex De La Iglesia's The Last Circus (2010). Having seen De La Iglesia's Accion Mutante, I feel De La Iglesia is a good visualist (the tribal maze attraction in the Last Circus is wondrous), but his films are like the Spanish student in school - garish, ribald and unwittingly tacky.  The Kojak-themed erotic dance show is almost too ugly. The ending just peters out. It's alternately garish and grey. Confused.

Day of the Beast (1995) - More De La Iglesia. A gaudy, stylish but rather alienating "comedy" about a priest and a metalhead fighting the Antichrist. The humour doesn't travel and the CGI hasn't dated. No wonder it never got a proper US release.

Lady Dracula (1978) - Sexy comedy, I guess, with a deathly Stephen Boyd in his final role as the Count. An Ingrid Pitt waxwork is found in a German building site. Not funny, but interesting to see all the exaggerated stereotypes and ugly Krauts getting it on. Some similarities to Vampira, but with a bondage and fancy dress party soundtracked by Horst Jankowski's  easy listening Beatles tracks.

Love and Bullets (1979) - A rewatch - Nicely shot, although confused (the sign of a troubled production - scenes jump from Switzerland and the US and back), and Jill Ireland is awful, almost Barbara Windsor-esque as a big-breasted Tammy Wynette-loving Dolly-esque Southern mama, but there is a neat bridge car chase. John Hallam plays an American. Lorraine Chase plays Henry Silva's Cockney mistress (Now, if she'd been in the Ireland role...). The ending with Rod Steiger and his mates exploding is fun.

Evil of Dracula (1974) - A Japanese Dracula movie set in a girls' school. It's interesting, a typical Hammer gothic but with Japanese actors in a quasi-Western setting. Some weird visuals - animated blood, a multi-eyed creature, desert and mountain vistas clashing.

Rosebud (1975) - Overlong, muddled hostage nonsense with Peter O'Toole trying to rescue Isabelle Huppert, Lalla Ward and Kim Cattrall from the PLO. Some bad effects, i.e. Raf Vallone having a Hilda Ogden-esque mural in his living room instead of the Paris skyline. Peter O'Toole wears a funny fedora. Dickie Attenborough turns up as a toff dressed as an Arab, in a role he clearly did for the money. An endlessly tedious runaround between wine bars and watching hostage videos. Lots of hirsute Hebrew backsides. The ending is a bit WTF. With the PLO lads seemingly winning. Julian Pettifer plays himself for Panorama.  A typical staid and humourless Preminger effort.

The Noah's Ark Principle (1984) - Early Roland Emmerich effort, a cold, clinical but expensive looking sub-Silent Running look at a space station disaster. Feels oddly Australian.

Joey (1985) - More Emmerich. Very odd German-made Fauxmerica, trying to convince one it is an Amblin production, even down to a Williams-esque score. Bland, and with an unknown, amateur ex-pat cast - but it looks great, much more expensive than it is, and the ex-celebrity monocled ventriloquist's dummy is an interesting design. But it feels slavish to the point that it resembles the likes of Stranger Things thirty years before.

Scream And Scream Again (1969) - An aimless, confused mess. Half-Edgar Wallace detective plodder, half-psychedelic mad scientist spy film. A dull Bond knockoff with a Scotland Yard man played by Alfred Marks in the lead. Apart from a chase sequence, it is repetitive, focusing too much on drugged out hippies, and Cushing, Price and Lee are wasted. It is too pedestrian for the idea. If it had been a foreign film, it might have been more consistently strange. It's very ITC. It's almost an episode of UFO. Yes, there's a few memorable images i.e. the opening, but the film doesn't know how to top those bits.
Rewatched it in September - and at times it moves. It has energy. The chases are great, and the weird dummy-humanoids.  It's still a mess, but the Eastern European sequences strike me more now. The modness kind of alienated me. If Hessler had done Satanic Rites of Dracula, it might have been better, but I wonder from his other work, did this film have a particularly good second unit director? It's just a lot of the interiors and bits with the weak Christopher Matthews stick in the memory.  But there's bits that go from energy to darkly lit gloominess. It's still a mess, though. It is too ambitious, and the procedural element slows it. But there's too much going on.

Fahrenheit 451 (1966) - Cold, unlikeable and rather silly - Cyril Cusack's fire brigade are basically Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb... This horrific totalitarian future shouldn't look like Trumpton (via the Prisoner, but still...)

Outland (1981) - Astonishing model work. Clearly an influence on Red Dwarf (down to Jupiter mining). Better than Alien and Saturn 3, but most of it is too darkly lit, and the drama is like  TV's Star Cops.  It's slow, too much of a western (it follows High Noon too closely) than a weird space-bound conspiracy thriller. Berkoff is typically goofy in his brief moment. And exploding, inflating PH Moriarty is a good effect. But it hasn't dated well. especially the constant minutes of computer screens that in 1981 were something to talk about, but now, well it's like watching calculators. Why does Connery and Kika Markham's kid have a US accent, when his parents are British? Nice Goldsmith soundtrack too.

The Beastmaster (1982) - Typical 80s fantasy nonsense, aside from a few things, almost interchangeable with The Sword and the Sorcerer. The problem with almost all 80s sword and sorcery film, like the post-apocalyptic stuff (to a lesser extent), is that the worlds they create are rubbish, constructed out of anything that could be found on a backlot. A castle in a desert, or in Hawk the Slayer's case, a disco light in a monastery. And a lot don't have enough innovation and character to make up for that. Yes, this has action ferrets, but it has that problem of being confused as to how civilised the people should be - should there be knights and monks or should it be just post-caveman... At $9 million, more expensive than it looks. Don Coscarelli tries his best, but it also ruins the more science fictional novel by Andre Norton that it is based on.

3 Men To Kill (1980) -Attractively shot seaside locations and action don't help to distinguish this routine Alain Delon cop thriller.

See also Paroles de Flic (1985) - which despite an interesting African setting, and Delon as a hero called Pratt, is mostly predictable, until too late in the runtime. It has an impressively melodramatic riverside car stunt and the soppy theme tune sung by Delon in a duet with Ian Levine favourite Phyllis Nelson. It's quite bloody, including a scene where a man is tortured by being thrown into a wall of Tuc crackers. And there are a few good chase bits, but it takes too long to kick in. And the climax is at Pinder's circus, with Delon channelling Roger Moore by dressing up as a clown. It's a passable exploiter, released by Guild in the UK.

Man In A Hurry (1977) - More humourless, dry, dull Delon gubbins, about African relations.

Le Passage (1986) - Alain Delon horror effort. About deals with the Grim Reaper (portrayed as a Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget/Blofeld-type, with lots of computer screens, hiding his skeletal appearance from behind a chair). Striking at times, but kind of dull. Delon plays a comics artist - hence animated interludes.

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